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city, seat (1879) of Portage county, central Wisconsin, U.S. It lies on the Wisconsin River, about 65 miles (105 km) northwest of Appleton and 110 miles (175 km) north of Madison. The area was originally inhabited by Menominee Indians. George Stevens, a lumberer, traveled to the area from Fort Winnebago in Portage in 1838 and settled it the following year. The city, laid out in 1847, became a lumbering centre and grew in the 1870s after the arrival of the Wisconsin Central Railroad (Soo Line). Polish immigrants influenced its cultural development